A few days back I received a message from one of my contacts on WhatsApp. The message read,
“OMG!! Have you seen this? link”
As you may have noticed, the message does not say much but has a link bearing the name of a popular online store. I didn’t click on it because I knew it was a WhatsApp spam message. But, I’d like to help you understand what would most probably happen if you click on the link.
• First, you are taken to a website that ‘looks’ like a popular online store
• Then, you are prompted to play a game like ‘Spin a Wheel’ where you can claim a prize depending on where the wheel’s pointer stops
• After you spin the wheel, let’s say you win a smartphone. Now, to claim the prize, you are instructed to share your happiness about winning the prize with 5 or more of your friends
• Once you do this, you are asked to install an app as the last step before you can claim your prize
• You install the app but nothing happens – you never receive your gift
So, what happened here?
The entire purpose of the message was to take you to a fake website and make you install unwanted apps and by doing so, the scammer was able to earn some money. And because you shared the message with your friends, who might do exactly what you did, you have helped the scam spread to more people – which means more money for the scammer. And no, no one receives any gift because there wasn’t any to begin with.
Clicking on links in such messages might take you to a compromised web page that can silently drop a virus on your phone. And this virus can be used to steal your personal and confidential information (contacts, emails, messages, bank account details, etc.) or hijack your phone itself.
Other similar WhatsApp spam messages
What’s the lesson to be learned here?
With all the festivities around, it is common for us to receive messages about offers and discounts from big brands and online stores. While you should make the most of such offers, stay cautious of scams such as the one described above. If nothing, follow this one rule – never click on links in messages that sound exciting, promotional, strange or unusual. Whenever you receive a message of this nature, inquire about it with the sender and then take an appropriate action. As an added measure, secure your phone with a reliable mobile antivirus app.
If you have received such messages in the past or receive one in the future, do let us know about it; we’ll put it up on our blog. Stay safe!